CARLSBAD, Calif. — With so many seniors living in isolation throughout the pandemic, a friendly knock at their door can make their day. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Carlsbad for to meet the 'Masquerade Brigade'.
I was met by a group of women on the street. Although they were all wearing masks, I could tell from their excitement they were smiling. I asked, "Who are we surprising?"
They all responded, "Betty Eschelman."
The Masquerade Brigade then tiptoed toward the home of their dear friend.
"She lives alone so we think that a little bit of cheer will do her some good," whispered Marty Ummel. The women then knocked on the door and when it opened, they shouted, "Surprise!!"
Betty Eshelman swore she had no idea who was knocking on her door. "Oh my goodness. Oh, my golly, it's amazing, it's been a long time since I've seen any of you," said Betty.
The Masquerade Brigade then started to sing an American folk classic, "You are our sunshine, our only sunshine. You make us happy when skies are grey."
Volunteers from the Assistance League of North Coast started singing to seniors back in April. Marty Ummel was the first recipient. It was on her birthday and she was feeling a little down in the dumps.
"Yeah, Coronavirus had started I couldn't go out and so when they came oh my goodness it was just, it filled me with joy it was just so much fun and I knew that we could do this for others and that is how we began the Masquerade Brigade," said Marty.
For Betty, living alone during the pandemic has been tough. "It's been difficult to be honest with you," said Betty.
Betty was married to her Navy man Darwin for 44 years. Her children are all grown up and she wasn't expecting company today. Especially a large group of what appeared to be masked bandits bearing gifts.
"Some fresh strawberries," said Fran Tovar. Along with candy and fresh flowers, Fran Tovar and her friends brought Betty a bright yellow balloon with a smiley face.
"This doesn't take a lot of time, it certainly doesn't take a lot of talent but it makes us feel so good and it brings joy to other people," said Fran.
Betty is the 25th senior they've surprised. She is visited often by her son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids but seeing her friends sure felt good. Betty grew up on an Indiana farm but says there's no place like home in sunny San Diego County. Fittingly, the group finished the song, "Please don't take our sunshine away."
If you feel like singing, the Assistance League of North Coast is always looking for new volunteers. For more information click here.